How to Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff Muscles at Home

How to Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff Muscles at Home

In our last blog, we discussed a variety of different shoulder complaints that we do very well at treating here at our Orlando chiropractic office. I want to share a little more about the rotator cuff. First, you need to understand what the rotator cuff is and does. A lot of people use this word completely wrong. I hear rotator cup a lot—rotator cup, like a cup of coffee. I don’t know what people are hearing when we’re saying this stuff, but the rotator cuff is four muscles that come across from your back across, and they all insert into your shoulder. These muscles allow you to move your arm out and in, and they are very easy to injure.

Everyone thinks these are big, healthy muscles or big, thick muscles. Actually, they’re teeny, tiny strips of muscle that all work together to create stability in the shoulder and allow external and internal rotation of the shoulder. It’s really easy to injure that rotator cuff,, and once it’s been damaged, tendonitis or a grade one or grade two tear will heal, but it heals into something called tendinosis. Tendinosis when that tendon or that muscle is not as strong as it used to be. It’s developed some scar tissue. It looks different as opposed to other normal, healthy tissue.

When you have tissue that’s not normal, it’s very easy to re-tear. You end up with an initial rotator cuff injury, turning into tendinosis, but then re-tears every time you even pick up a baseball. You pick up a baseball to throw to your kid, and you’ve already re-torn that. You’ve already re-injured your shoulder. It’s essential that you understand that if you have a rotator cuff injury, you need continuously rehab this thing. You need to go out of your way to make sure that you’re doing an excellent job of rehabbing this shoulder here at the office and on your own, you need to make sure that it is a constant priority for you.

To do that rehab, we prescribe many exercises here at the office. I use little booklets that I’ll provide to patients. We’ll go over the exercises very briefly. I’ll say, “Here are the pages I want you to do. Here’s how I want you to do them.” Then that’s it. My goal isn’t to sit there counting and watching you do these exercises. You must do them. I give them to you, and they are equally as important to everything we do in the office.

I trust that you will do them exactly like I showed you how to do them. I trust that you’re going to do them as often as we talk about you doing them. It’s your job to do these exercises. If you’re looking for something more dedicated where someone will count your reps and your sets, you might consider physical therapy. The exercises are essential.

I want to share with you my favorite shoulder exercise that I bet you’re not doing. For this, I borrowed a Progresso lentil soup can from my wife. We’re going to do the soup can exercise, and it’s designed to strengthen the rotator cuff as we’re doing it. Watch the video linked below to see exactly how to do it.

You’re going to make sure that it’s closed because that would be really messy if you don’t. You’re going to turn it over,, and then you are going to let it fall all the way down to your waist, and then it’s going to come back up to parallel. This thing’s only about two pounds, but what you’ll find is that even if you have strong shoulders, even if you have good rotator cuffs and no rotator cuff tendinosis, that after you do about 15 to 20 of these, your arm is going to start to get tired. You’re going to start to shake as you bring it all the way out there. You’re going to start to cheat and lean backwards so that it’s easier to bring that soup can up.

This is all it takes. I am sure you have cans like these in your kitchen right now. I guarantee it. You don’t need weights. You don’t need to go to the gym. You don’t need to wait for that perfect ideal moment to do these shoulder exercises. Next time you’re in the kitchen, just grab one of these from the pantry or the cabinet. You’re going to take it and do these exercises while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. It’s straightforward, very simple. It’s only going to take you 20 or 30 of these things, and you’re going to start to cheat, and you’re going to start to shake.

That’s when you know that you’re done. If you just do that two or three times a week while you’re cooking dinner because you have to do that anyways, what going to notice is that your shoulders are more stable and you’re going to be less prone to injuring the rotator cuff and a lot of other shoulder tissues. My goal here is to  is keep you, my viewer, my patient, my friend, happy and well, so I hope this has been helpful!

About Dr. Merrill

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Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.